Friday 23 March 2018

Fintan stands by his man in latest inquiry bromance

Fintan Drury
Fintan Drury
Lise Hand

Lise Hand

Fintan Drury was standing by his old compadre with all the resolution of a fiery Dessie O'Malley standing by the Republic.

Several times during his evidence to the Banking Inquiry, he declared his loyalty to Brian Cowen. They had been close buddies for donkeys' years. He had even written a few speeches for Brian, as a personal favour.

"I like to convince myself that they were particularly important speeches - they probably weren't," he chuckled modestly.

The former director of Anglo was having no truck with any claims that the ins and outs of Anglo's travails had been discussed during the infamous round of golf and dinner at Druids Glen in July 2008, when then-finance minister Brian spent the bones of a day with some Anglo execs, and nary a word was said about the bank's increasing woes.

Brian himself had insisted when he gave evidence at the Banking Inquiry earlier this month that the get-together had been a purely social occasion.

And now Fintan was in hearty agreement, arguing that if the Anglo lads had ever wanted a word in the ear of the finance minister about the state of affairs at the bank, there was no need for such convoluted carry-on.

"I had privileged access to Brian Cowen because of our friendship and if it was a case of me wanting to, on behalf of the bank, influence Brian Cowen, either during his time as Minister for Finance or his time as Taoiseach, to take a particular view on Anglo Irish Bank, I could have gone to see him, walked into his office and closed the door and had that conversation," he explained to Fine Gael's Eoghan Murphy.

He had clearly been a close confidante. When Seanie Fitz wanted a word with the finance minister in March 2008 when it began to get a bit hairy on the liquidity front for Anglo, Fintan was able to put a quick call to Brian, even though he was out of the country on official Paddy's Day duties.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe wanted to know what stuff the two friends - a Taoiseach and a non-executive director of a bank - talked about when they hung out, if not about money-matters.

"The relationship with Brian Cowen was that we talked about everything, except things that were - as far as we were both concerned - off-limits," he explained. So instead they talked family and sport.

"One of the refreshing things about Brian Cowen was that he was one of the few people in politics who was as interested in my life as I was in his," Fintan declared.

One of the illuminating things to emerge from this ongoing narrative about the rise and demise of the Celtic Tiger is the extent to which the banking/financial/regulatory worlds were simply one interconnected boys' club.

These chaps kept the show going with back-and-forth phone calls, dinners, golf outings, meetings. Deals were struck, there were words-in-ears between high-ups. There was the lads' lingo of the Anglo Tapes.

The parade of witnesses into the inquiry has been predominantly male, as have the dramatis personae that - for legal or other reasons - have not appeared centre stage in this sorry saga.

So many bromances have emerged in the story of our banking crisis: Brian Lenihan and David McWilliams and, as transpired at the inquiry on Wednesday, also John Gormley and David McWilliams. Sean Quinn was besotted with Anglo and for a long while they loved him right back. There was the dynamic duo of David Drumm and Seanie Fitz. All the business bigwigs adored Seanie. And Brian Cowen had his faithful friend Fintan.

Oh there was so much fun and bromance to be had in the good times. But it was us poor saps in the cheap seats who ended up living on the side of Broke Bank Mountain.

Irish Independent

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